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Home   About   Membership   Meetings   Government Affairs   Members Only July 8, 2011
Executive Briefing

President's Message

Commissaries under funding attack

Legislation (S. 277) that would require the Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide health care to veterans, and their family members who have experienced adverse health effects as a result of exposure to well-water contaminated by human carcinogens at Camp Lejeune, N.C., recently passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in a unanimous vote.

This is certainly worthy legislation; however, ALA strongly objects to the way the committee plans to pay for it. Without any warning, the committee voted unanimously directing consolidation of all defense commissaries and exchanges into one worldwide system and prohibiting the use of appropriated funds to support the system. Without the federal subsidy, commissaries and exchanges would be forced to raise prices and eventually would go out of business. The impact would be devastating:
  • Increase grocery prices $4,000 a year for military families at a time when military food stamp redemption is skyrocketing.
  • Guts a cornerstone of the military's benefits and severely damages efforts by the White House and the first lady to aid military families.
  • Throw up to 50,000 family members out of work in the midst of an administration effort to hire more family members.
  • Take away valuable benefits when the military is fighting two wars.
  • Take away billions of dollars that military people have invested over the years in these programs.
  • Force military people overseas to go off base to shop, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Gut funding for vital military community programs such libraries, physical fitness and child care.
Our first problem with this is obvious: Commissaries and exchanges are a valued and effective military benefit. Every dollar of the subsidy translates to nearly $5 of benefit value to patrons and considerably more than that for lower-grade enlisted families.

Additionally, the commissary is consistently considered by military families to be one of their most important benefits. Commissaries provide average savings of more than 30 percent, which is especially important to young military families during these tough economic times. The contribution of these programs is essential and a benchmark of efficient operations. Estimates are that there is high rate of return to the appropriations that provide nearly $5 in value for every dollar appropriated. This includes:
  • Annual savings of nearly $2.6 billion at the cash register with the average family of four saving over $4,000 per year, or nearly 32 percent, from commercial supermarket prices.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in cost avoidance to the DoD cost of living allowances in high cost and overseas areas.
  • Nearly $10 billion in capital improvements financed by patrons through their surcharge dollars over the past 20 years.
  • Employment for 50,000 family members adding some $800 million to military family household budgets while generating significant employment tax revenue.
  • Employment of another 10,000 family members by the supporting industry adding another $300 million to military family household budgets while generating significant employment tax revenue.
  • Nearly $500 million in industry support in the form of enhancements to supply chain efficiencies and in-store labor contributions.
We are not sure at this point how this proposed legislation will track. A procedural problem exists in the fact that oversight for commissaries and exchanges falls under the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee, not Veterans' Affairs. In his July 2 column, Tom Philpott (provided in last weeks EB) said that the Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to request "sequential referral" of the bill so that its members can weigh the merits of consolidating the store system. If sequential referral doesn't occur because it needs the unanimous consent of the Senate, opponents will try to derail Burr's funding scheme through floor amendment. We also have engaged the leadership in the House of Representatives on this issue.

Patrick B. Nixon
President, ALA

Washington Update

New defense chief Panetta sees tough budget choices
Reuters    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Leon Panetta recently was sworn in as U.S. defense secretary promising to keep the military strong while making tough choices on defense spending cuts. Panetta, who as CIA director helped oversee the operation that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden two months ago, arrives at the Pentagon at a moment of transition in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and intense debate over the American role in Libya. More

CBO: Pentagon costs rising fast
The Washington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that higher costs for weapons systems and health care will increase the Pentagon budget by $40 billion over the next five years at a time when President Barack Obama and many lawmakers are looking to cut military spending. The new projection, of $594 billion in spending for 2016, is $25 billion higher than the Pentagon's estimates. More

House bill would increase Pentagon spending
Los Angeles Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The House recently began debating on a $650 billion spending bill to fund the Pentagon and continue paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure would boost the Pentagon's budget by $17 billion for fiscal year 2012 at a time when Congress and the White House are in heated negotiations over the deficit and reining in federal spending. More

Commissary News

Dietary icon: Supermarket dietitians are making use of the USDA's new, easy-to-understand MyPlate symbol
Supermarket News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Last month, first lady Michelle Obama introduced the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new MyPlate icon, which is meant to help translate the department's dietary guidelines into a simple visual aid. The new plate-shaped symbol has been met with general acclaim by U.S. dietitians, who say it's much more intuitive than the Food Guide Pyramid and programs that it has replaced. More

'Grown in the USA' surging in popularity
Progressive Grocer    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
What appeals most to Americans on a food product label? A new survey finds Americans most want to see "natural," "organic" or "grown in the USA." More

Grocery shoppers buying local, printing coupons to save money
Montgomery Advertiser    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
They are perhaps the most mundane collections of numbers, but monthly grocery price statistics that cite the ups and downs of the dollars people pay for food ultimately have a substantial effect on what shoppers are willing to pay for, switch out or mark off the list entirely. More

Making produce less expensive could reduce child obesity
The Packer    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Lower prices for healthy foods and higher prices for less healthy foods could improve the health of American children. That is the take-away from a study called "The Effect of Food and Beverage Prices on Children's Weights," authored by Minh Wendt and Jessica Todd, economists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. More

Commissary Announcements

Commissary Web Posts

The following commissary items were posted to the ALA Website:

DP #13, Update #2.
DP #15, Alaska Promotion and Shipper Quantities.
DP #18, WW Promotion Package, DeCA's 20th Anniversary Sale.
2011 Fall Club Pack WW Promotion Package.

11-90, DeCA National Title Magazine Rack Program 2011.
11-91, DeCA Front End Rack Stock Assortment Refresh Round Table.
11-93, Category Buyer Change.

Adds/Changes/Deletes for Week 11-26 Corrected Copy and Week 11-27.
Guard & Reserve On-Site Sale Schedule updates.
CRV Values as of July 3.

2011 ALA/DeCA Hawaii Conference & Food Show: Aug. 15-18, Hawaii Prince Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii. Registration and agenda information is now available on the website.

Commissary Council Consumer Awareness Team (CAT) golf tournament, Sept. 12, Country Club of Petersburg, Va. Contact Ainsley Everhart,, for further information and registration.

64th Annual Convention, Oct. 3-5, Orlando World Marriott Center, Orlando, Fla. Watch for registration information.

ALA Meetings

2011 meetings
ALA    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
For details on any of our events, visit our Web page at

2011 ALA/DeCA Hawaii Conference & Food Show: Aug. 15-18, Hawaii Prince Hotel, Honolulu. Watch for registration information.

ALA Hawaii Scholarship Golf Tournament: Aug. 16, Kapolei Golf Course, 91701 Farrington Hwy., Waipahu, Hawaii 96797, Phone: 808-674-2227
(Assists DeCA/ALA beneficiaries in going to college.)

Three $4,000 scholarships to be awarded. You can help make this happen!

Shotgun start: 1-1:30 p.m., dinner and awards: 6 p.m. $135/person (industry), $95/person government. (Registration must be received by Aug. 6 to quality for government rate.)

Entry includes greens fees, cart, boxed lunch, buffet dinner and door prizes. Prizes also awarded for longest drive, closest to the pin, best score and hole in one.

64th Annual Convention: Oct. 3-5, Orlando World Marriott Center, Orlando, Fla. Watch for registration information.

Exchange News

Why Christmas in July is a bad retail idea
The Street    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Any browning evergreen tree, melted snowman or sweaty Santa can tell you Christmas in July is a bad idea. Maybe one day retailers will get the same message. More

Retailers seen posting healthy sales for June
Reuters via Chicago Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
U.S. retailers are expected to report healthy sales gains for June, as bargains brought in nervous shoppers, leaving some wondering whether too much discounting may crimp second-quarter profits. Consumers are still under a great deal of pressure from high food and gasoline prices and lingering economic uncertainty. More

Stores find success by focusing on the hunt
The Sun Herald    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Trader Joe's, the specialty grocery chain, might not have the cheapest toilet paper or the most varieties of ketchup, but it hooks customers with mango butter, chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds and cilantro-and-jalapeno hummus. More

Starbucks bolsters m-commerce strategy via mobile gifting app
Mobile Commerce Daily    Share    Share on
FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Starbucks is showing that mobile plays a critical role in its overall initiatives by unveiling a new application that features gift card capabilities. The app includes the company's eGift feature and combines the features of its iPhone my Starbucks and Starbucks Card mobile apps. More

No relief in sight
Supermarket News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Many expect conditions to remain challenging through the second half of the year, as inflation and high gas prices restrain consumers' ability to spend freely. More

Restaurant supper traffic improves
Progressive Grocer    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
After several years of traffic declines, visits to restaurants at supper increased over the last three quarters, according to foodservice market research from the NPD Group. Supper visits increased 2 percent and 1 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, respectively, and increased 2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, according to NPD's CREST service, which continually tracks consumer use of foodservice outlets. More

Meeting customer needs through foodservice packaging
CSNews Foodservice Retailing    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Our lives are packed with responsibilities and people are busier than ever. As a result, consumers have less time to devote to meal preparation at home and are turning to alternate channels to fill the void. This is evident by the rise in demand for freshly prepared food in supermarkets, quick-serve restaurants and convenience stores as consumers increasingly seek out on-the-go food choices. More

Gas prices aren't likely to drop much more this summer
Los Angeles Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Motorists can expect gasoline prices to drift slightly lower over the rest of the summer, but most of the declines are over, analysts said, as the average for a gallon of regular in California reached $3.794 and stood at $3.579 nationally. The price averages are calculated by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, which uses a telephone survey of gas stations across the U.S. More

Exchange Announcements

Military ID cards to get new look
El Paso Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Department of Defense is fighting back against potential identity theft. Since June 1, the department gradually has started to issue new military ID cards that don't have a visible Social Security number on them, said Eric Birdsong, manager of the Personnel Operations Branch at Fort Bliss. More

Washington Update

Woman honored for life of fitness
U.S. Army    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While most of Fort McPherson was celebrating the post's history at the Garrison's color casing ceremony June 17, or the history of the Army at the Army's 236th birthday celebration the same day, another type of history was being prepared to be celebrated at the Fort McPherson Fitness Center — a woman's 79-year dedication to fitness. More

Partnership links military spouses with employers
U.S. Army    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Defense Department is launching a new partnership that's intended to expand job opportunities for military spouses by connecting them with employers actively seeking to hire them. More

Fitness program rocks Civilians into shape
U.S. Army    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division continue to deploy, the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Civilian team remain on standby to support the Army's mission. Ready for the call, Army Civilians are given the opportunity to get into tip-top shape all the while incorporating the command philosophy of teamwork, caring, training and having fun. More

Non Appropriated Funds jobs
U.S. Air Force    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NAF provides Morale, Welfare and Recreational activities for uniformed military personnel, civilian, military retirees and their families. The NAF organizations contribute to the financial support of various MWR programs. Persons employed by NAF organizations are compensated by NAF funds which are derived from revenue earned by the various producing activities. More

Centennial of Naval Aviation sponsorship opportunities
Navy Life PNW    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sponsorships offer a chance for Navy MWR to partner with you to enhance events for the military community while your business gains valuable promotional benefits. Events ranging from the hugely successful Kid's Camp Deployments to ship homecomings, New Year's Eve festivities to summer fun, all offer sponsors wonderful exposure to a traditionally hard to reach market. More

First lady Michelle Obama honors military families at Cubs-Nationals game
Chicago Sun-Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Michelle Obama has taken part in a ceremony honoring children of military families at the Washington Nationals' game against the Chicago Cubs. The first lady was warmly welcomed by the crowd as she walked to the mound with nine children from military families of the various armed forces before the game. More

Executive Briefing
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